Picture of typewriter in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S
Image

CLOSEUP: Paul Varjak’s typewriter. From George Axelrod’s screenplay for BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S

Picture of typewriter in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S

From George Axelrod’s screenplay for BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, adapted from a story by Truman Capote.

 Closeup of Paul Varjak’s typewriter. Frame from the film, photographed by Franz Planer for Blake Edward’s 1961 feature.

 Watch the scene, in which Paul Varjak’s (George Peppard) writing is interrupted by the singing of his neighbor, Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn).

 Read all about the making of the film in Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Aud­rey Hep­burn, Break­fast at Tif­fany’s, and The Dawn of the Mod­ern Wo­man, by Sam Was­son. It is the first-ever, com­plete ac­count of the mak­ing of the film. With a cast of char­ac­ters including Tru­man Ca­pote, Edith Head, di­rec­tor Blake Ed­wards, and, of course, Hep­burn her­self, Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. im­merses us in the Amer­ica of the late ’fif­ties, be­fore Wood­stock and birth con­trol, when a not-so-virginal girl by the name of Hol­ly Go­lightly raised eye­brows across the na­tion, chang­ing fash­ion, film, and sex, for good. With de­licious prose and con­sider­able wit, Wasson de­livers us from the pent­houses of the Up­per East Side to the pools of Bever­ly Hills, pre­sent­ing BREAK­FAST AT TIF­FANY’S as we have never seen it before — through the eyes of those who creat­ed it.
Recommended: The author’s for­mid­able know­ledge of the film­makers, and thor­ough re­search give the read­er the con­text to ap­preci­ate the de­tails of the writ­ing and pro­duc­tion of this re­mark­ably in­flu­ential fea­ture film. Sam Wasson’s pre­vious book was A Splurch in the Kisser: The Movies of Blake Edwards.

 Also: BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S: The Official 50th Anniversary Companion, by Sarah Gristwood, foreword by Hubert de Givenchy.

Go to Top

Max Fleischer’s 1917 patent application for the Rotoscope
Status

Visual-effects makers: How’s that ramen tasting?

Hollywood bosses gloat over exorbitant movie profits while visual-effects makers subsist on cheap instant noodles, in the latest, tart comment on the state of the visual-effects business from the mordant-loaded brush of artist Jesse Mesa Toves, whose robust revival of the editorial cartoon delivers its satirical punch with dramatic visual storytelling.

Eleven billion polygons? I can’t count that high,” says a boss, standing over a harried visual-effects artist, who is eating at his workstation, trying to slurp up a cup of instant noodles. In the foreground, a chart shows projected boxoffice for 2014 rocketing past eleven billion dollars, to twelve. “Wait. Actually I think I can.” Toves adds: “Congratulations Hollywood, that $12-billion year looks like a given … ?”

Go to Top

FYRO Macedonia Still from MOTHERS

European Film Promotion screens 13 Oscar contenders 2010 November 3-10 in Beverly Hills

BY AUSTIN BURBRIDGE. LOS ANGELES (CINEMA MINIMA) — European Film Promotion — a consortium of 32 European film organizations — will host industry screenings for 13 feature films which are up for consideration to be nominees for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar at the 83rd Academy Awards.

European Film Promotion poster image

The films — from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, Macedonia, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland — will be shown in Beverly Hills (Los Angeles) 2010 November 3–10, in afternoon and evening screenings for film professionals, selected press, and Academy members. The screenings coincide with the American Film Market, in order to give the films exposure to the many buyers who come from all over the world to do business there.

“These screenings are a great chance to highlight some of Europe’s best films during the Oscar campaigns, and also, for the buyers who attend the AFM,” observed Éva Vezér, who is President of EFP, and General Manager of the Hungarian film organization Magyar Filmunió. “We are extremely pleased to be able to present 13 of our films this year — a big increase compared to the eight in 2009 and six in 2008. This shows that more and more members of our EFP network want to make use of this opportunity and spotlight the films where the decision makers meet.”

Guide to EFP Screenings

For the convenience of Cinema Minima’s readers the entire screening schedule is presented here in chronological order, and with handy indices, by country, and by title.

All screenings will take place at the Wilshire Screening RoomMap.

Screenings: Index by country

Screenings: Index by title

Schedule of screenings

Each entry includes –

  • A still from the film, which is linked to its handbill
  • A link to its entry in the EFP Film Database
  • A link to professional information about its director
  • A link (if available) to its website or trailer
  • A link to its handbill. Each handbill — which is in Adobe Reader (PDF) format — is a complete résumé of the film, with sales information for buyers. These handbills are superb productions. They testify to the high standards and excellence of the EFP’s Film Sales Support organization.
2010 November 3 Wednesday 6:15 PM
Still from MAMA GOGO IcelandMAMMA GÓGÓ by Fridrik Thór Fridriksson.
Trailer. Handbill (PDF).
2010 November 3 Wednesday 8:00 PM
Still from TIRZA The Netherlands (Holland) — TIRZA by Rudolf van den Berg.
Website. Handbill (PDF).
2010 November 4 Thursday 8:00 PM
Still from EVEN THE RAIN SpainTAMBIÉN LA LLUVIA | EVEN THE RAIN by Icíar Bollain.
Website. Handbill (PDF).
2010 November 5 Friday 5:00 PM
Still from 9:06 Slovenia9:06 by Igor Šterk.
Trailer. Handbill.
2010 November 6 Saturday 2:30 PM
Still from THE BORDERSlovak RepublicTHE BORDER by Jaro Vojtek.
Website. Handbill (PDF).
2010 November 6 Saturday 4:00 PM
Still from LA PIVELLINA AustriaLA PIVELLINA by Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel.
Trailer. Handbill (PDF).
2010 November 6 Saturday 6:00 PM
Still from THE BLACKS CroatiaCRNCI | THE BLACKS by Zvonimir Jurić and Goran Dević.
Trailer. Handbill.
2010 November 7 Sunday 4:00 PM
Still from LA PETIT CHAMBRE SwitzerlandLA PETITE CHAMBRE by Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond.
Website. Handbill (PDF).
2010 November 7 Sunday 6:00 PM
Still from THE ANGEL NorwayENGELEN | THE ANGEL by Margreth Olin.
Website. Handbill (PDF).
2010 November 9 Tuesday 6:15 PM
Still from SIMPLE SIMON SwedenI RYMDEN FINSS INGA KÄSNLOR | SIMPLE SIMON by Andreas Öhman.
Handbill (PDF).
2010 November 9 Tuesday 8:00 PM
Still from BIBLIOTHEQUE PASCAL HungaryBIBLIOTHÈQUE PASCAL by Szabolcs Hajdú.
Trailer. Handbill (PDF).
2010 November 10 Wednesday 6:15 PM
Bulgaria. Still from EASTERN PLAYS BulgariaEASTERN PLAYS by Kamen Kalev.
Trailer. Handbill (PDF).
2010 November 10 Wednesday 8:00 PM
FYRO Macedonia Still from MOTHERS FYR of MacedoniaMAJKI | MOTHERS by Milcho Manchevski.
Handbill (PDF).

European Film Promotion

European Film Promotion (EFP) organizes the screenings. It is an international network of organizations from 32 European countries, which promotes and markets European cinema around the world.

Each member organization employs experts in promoting and marketing its own national cinema; and they coöperate to promote European cinema.

EFP was founded in 1997. It is supported by the European Union’s Media Programme and by its member organizations.

EFP Film Sales Support

EFP FSS logo Film Sales Support (FSS) — which will have an umbrella office at the American Film Market — is EFP’s support scheme for the promotion of European films outside of Europe.

FSS financially supports up to 50% of the marketing campaigns of European sales agents — or production companies in cases where films are not handled by a sales agent — at selected non-European film festivals or markets. In 2009, FSS backed 165 films at FILMART, the Asian Film Market, and the AFM.

For more information

The EFP Project Coordinator is Luisa Graeve

Go to Top

Picture of DVD cover of BLADE RUNNER Collector's Edition

Which BLADE RUNNER? Do alternate versions send a bad message to moviegoers?

  • A director calls
  • Five — no — seven versions
  • Not a syllogism, but a poem
  • Alternate versions versus theatrical exhibition
  • BLADE RUNNER as film noir
  • How continuity editing killed voiceover narration
  • BY AUSTIN BURBRIDGE. HOLLYWOOD (CINEMA MINIMA) — An acquaintance asked, “Which version of BLADE RUNNER do you prefer — the director’s cut, or the original?”

    I have only ever seen the original 1982 release of BLADE RUNNER, an adaptation of a novel by science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick. The film had been directed by Ridley Scott.

    [Update: 2011. I have seen the “director’s cut” — It is not an improvement. The explanation of details doesn’t make a better story, or a more satisfying entertainment.]

    However — this being Los Angeles — I do nevertheless have a story about the director’s cut. And an opinion about why I never seem to get around to seeing the later versions of the film.

    A director calls

    In the summer of 2007 I worked on the packaging for the five-disk Ultimate Collector’s Edition of BLADE RUNNER.

    Everyone was anxious, because the job was already late going to manufacturing for a Christmas release.

    When the thing came to me, I was surprised that the project was running late — the studios are usually maniacs about deadlines, and the packaging shop was — ordinarily — very good about being on time.

    I was looking over the proofs when the phone rang.

    It was Ridley Scott. That was surprising because — usually — directors have nothing to do with making DVDs of their films. That’s what distributors — and sales-and-marketing departments — are for.

    Why on earth did the director call — concerning a feature he had shot twenty-five years ago? Incredibly, he wanted changes made to the packaging.

    At that moment, I grasped why the job was late: apparently, Sir Ridley likes to fiddle with things — and to go right on making changes — up to the last possible minute.

    Five — no — seven versions

    I guess that explains — in part — why there have been seven versions of the movie over 25 years. And, I suspect, why, in 1982, the producers took the film away from him as its original release date approached.

    I had already been scratching my head as to why the world needed a box with five — five! — distinct versions of any feature film.

    BLADE RUNNER had been a wonderful movie experience when I saw it at a matinée at the Tower Theater in Houston in 1982. I had walked out of the cool cozy dark theater, into the brilliant hot daylight, in a lovely daze. The film had been impressive, and stimulating, and in every respect, completely entertaining.

    Did it answer all the questions it raised? No. It did, however, adhere to one of the rules of show business: “Always leave ’em wanting more!” It’s like a good meal — better to stop eating when feeling just about satisfied, not to gorge until the stomach is full but the palate is dulled.

    Were there obvious mistakes of continuity and realism? If the storyteller draws a viewer into its world, and sweeps her along in a powerful narrative, why would she would let her attention be diverted to details? (Of course, if a film is boring, then the details will distract; but fixing the details won’t make a boring film more interesting, either.)

    Not a syllogism, but a poem

    Was it perfect? Who cares! That’s not the job of art.

    It’s a bit like what the atheist H. L. Mencken said about Catholicism:

    The Latin Church — which I constantly find myself admiring despite its frequent astounding imbecilities — has always kept clearly before it the fact that religion is not a syllogism, but a poem.

    I think — no; I feel — that film is not logical, but poetic. I guess that BLADE RUNNER — as released in 1982 — was a beautiful moment — like a poem; like a kiss.

    I suspect that the six subsequent versions may be more like replicants!

    Here’s what Harrison Ford said about a later version:

    Spectacular, but it didn’t move me at all. They haven’t put anything in, so it’s still an exercise in design.

    In principal, I agree. I don’t imagine that the other versions would be bad, I just wonder whether they were necessary.

    Alternate versions and theatrical exhibition

    I also wonder whether, in general, the making of “director’s cuts” — not of BLADE RUNNER, but other, more recent pictures — sends a bad message to audiences, that any theatrical release is somehow deficient, that the best movie would have been held back for DVD. I love the feeling, sitting in a movie theater, when the title credits come up, and the music swells, that This Is It. Not, This Is Almost — But Not Quite — It.

    To me, a work of art is not only what it means or what it expresses: it is also a performance. At a particular moment. Not about second thoughts, or “do-overs.” In 1981, artists got together and gave their best performances, and collectively, made a statement about what Los Angeles had, by that time, already become.

    BLADE RUNNER as film noir

    BLADE RUNNER is — above all — a very late film noir. Not an homage, with a wink and nod; but a film noir in an unbroken tradition going back to the forties.

    It was also — and here’s the part that raised it above mere melodrama — a statement about film noir: That films noir were again relevant to the kind of place that in 1982 America was becoming. In the same way that films noir in their heyday were meditations on the kind of America which had emerged after the Great Depression.

    Films noir show women and men in a system which is so big and complicated and so thoroughly corrupt, that they cannot master it, let alone understand it. They’re parables about looking for certain knowledge, and discovering that nothing will ever be known with any certainty at all. I guess that may have been the mood at the dawn of the Reagan régime.

    How the fashion for continuity editing deprecated voiceover narration

    Because BLADE RUNNER is an instance of film noir, the voiceovers in the original version work very well. Voiceover narration is one of the signature elements of the genre.

    The film noir never, never exists in the present — it is always a story recounted in the regretted past, perfect, tense. The best example I can think of is SUNSET BOULEVARD, whose story is narrated in voiceover by a dead man, Joe Gillis.

    The removal of the voiceover narration from later versions of BLADE RUNNER is a solecism — a second thought, a failure of artistic nerve, more a bow to fashion than an improvement in storytelling technique.

    I think that recent Hollywood filmmakers have deprecated voiceover because the fashion in filmmaking since 1980 has been for continuity editing, the goal of which is a “seamless” (or “perfect”) illusion of reality (lately, this vogue for perfect illusion has given rise to 3-D films such as AVATAR).

    But, sometimes, the perfect can be the enemy of the good. Although continuity editing is an essential artistic device, it is but one among many. It ought to be used when it is effective, and appropriate. Otherwise, a storyteller can end up like the repair-person whose only tool is a hammer — “When the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.”

    When continuity editing is used as the exclusive mode of storytelling, it ends up as a kind of packaging that merely signals to the audience that what ought to be a story is merely a kind of consumer packaged good. Audiences expect the cinema to count for more than that in their lives.

    And it’s really too bad — there had been a world of glorious films which told their stories — and entertained their audiences — with devices which broke the illusion: montage, non-realistic sets, and voiceover.

    Buy BLADE RUNNER Collector’s Edition DVD at Amazon.com

    Go to Top

    Inventing the Movies: Hollywood's Epic Battle Between Innovation and the Status Quo, from Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs

    Two books tell histories of innovation in Hollywood but reach very different conclusions.

    The story of Hollywood is a story of successful technical innovation

    Inventing the Movies a new book by journalist Scott Kirsner, advances this thesis: “From Edison to the iPod, from the Warner Brothers to George Lucas, the story of how the movies became America’s favorite form of escapist entertainment — and retained their hold on our imaginations for more than a century — is a story of innovators prevailing again and again over skeptics who prefer to preserve the status quo.

    “In Inventing the Movies, Scott Kirsner unspools a never-before-told story of innovators who shaped Hollywood:

    • How a chance meeting at the Saratoga Race Track led to the end of black-and-white movies;
    • How Bing Crosby brought you the VCR;
    • How Walt Disney tamed television;
    • How a shotgun blast signaled the end of hand-made models and the beginning of digital special effects;
    • And how even the almighty Morgan Freeman had trouble persuading theater owners that the Internet wasn’t their mortal enemy.

    Inventing the Movies is an important read, not just for fans of Hollywood’s history, but for innovators trying to make change happen — in any industry.” The author, journalist Scott Kirsner, blogs Hollywood at Cinema Tech. [Inventing the Movies: Hollywood's Epic Battle Between Innovation and the Status Quo, from Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs, by Scott Kirsner]

    To the contrary: Misunderstanding Media

    For a contrary history, which holds that Hollywood has prospered by successfully retarding innovation for as long as possible — read Misunderstanding Media by Brian Winston.

    Go to Top

    Africa: Hollywood can't get it right

    Hollywood’s depiction of Africa has changed little since the days of TARZAN and OUT OF AFRICA and — despite the rise of Hollywood activism — Africa is still shown as a place which must be either subdued or saved, writes Sasha Polakow-Suransky in Good Magazine. The author traces the trends in Hollywood stories since 2001, starting with BLACK HAWK DOWN, through BLOOD DIAMOND. He observes that — with the exceptions of HOTEL RWANDA and SOMETIMES IN APRIL — Hollywood’s “themes [have] remained constant: jungle fever, white heroism, and white martyrdom,” concluding, “An Africa that is more than lush landscapes, bloodthirsty tyrants, and trigger-happy killers is long overdue.” [Source: Hollywood Can't Get Africa Right in: Good Magazine] End of Story dingbat

    Go to Top